September 28 is observed globally as World Rabies Day, to bring attention to this terrible and fatal disease which affects both people and animals. As PAWS marks this World Rabies Day we are sobered by the lab report from just the evening before that Sujawal, the puppy we had rescued during a flood relief mission to Thatta and Makli, died of rabies. She had begun to display a change in personality and even bit one of the co-founders on the hand two days before she suddenly died. All this gave us reason to be suspicious, get the necessary vaccinations and RIG treatment, as well as have the brain tissue of the puppy tested. It was a very sad and painful end to a sweet young life for whom we all had such hopes, and a few of PAWS supporters even offered to adopt. However it drives home the need for all animals to first be vaccinated before being adopted, something we are particularly vigilant about. Vaccinations must also be repeated at the necessary intervals.
Since the puppy did not come into contact with any dog in Karachi, she must have carried the disease with her. A PAWS team with veterinary student volunteers who had been with us on the trip are visiting the area today to alert the people there of the presence of rabies in their midst. We have offered to provide transportation costs in any dog bites cases, so victims from that area may receive free treatment at JPMC’s dog bite clinic or the Indus Hospital in Karachi. The Livestock Department in Thatta will also facilitate by letting us know of any such incidence.
As we take in the lessons from Sujawal’s short life, we are all the more determined to work towards the elimination of rabies, and to see the implementation of WHO recommended Animal Birth Control Programme for stray dog management across Pakistan.